Kansas’ Davids Introduces “Empowering Parents’ Healthcare Choices Act”

Representative Sharice Davids, (D-Kansas, 3rd District) recently introduced the Empowering Parents’ Healthcare Choices Act, a bill designed to cut insurer red tape, avoid surprise bills, and give parents decision-making power over their infant’s healthcare—not the insurance company.

Currently, expecting parents with separate health insurance policies are subject to an obscure and often undisclosed rule known as “the birthday rule,” which allows insurers to assign which policy will cover a new baby—regardless of what the parents want. Insurance companies often do not inform parents of this policy, which can result in surprise medical bills for growing families. That’s what happened to the Kjelshus family of Olathe, KS, when they welcomed their daughter Charlie to the world—leaving them with a $270,951 bill even though they had planned for Charlie to be covered by her mother’s insurance.

The Empowering Parents’ Healthcare Choices Act would give parents 60 days after the birth of their child to choose which insurance policy will cover their new baby. It would also give the Administration authority to instruct insurers on how and when to notify parents of their rights, helping more families avoid frustrating red tape, surprise bills, and insurance policy mazes.

“Welcoming a child into your family should be a joyful event, free from undue stress and financial burden at the hands of insurance companies,” said Davids. “This is a simple fix that gives parents the power over their baby’s healthcare coverage, so they can make an informed choice about their family’s future. For the Kjelshus family and countless others, I am proud to introduce the Empowering Parents’ Healthcare Choices Act.

“We thought we had everything prepared for our daughter’s arrival, but the ‘birthday rule’ ended up putting us in an unexpected and financially stressful back-and-forth with insurance companies for over a year,” said Mikkel and Kayla Kjelshus of Olathe, KS. “We are glad that Rep. Davids is bringing attention to this issue, which affects so many families and can put incredible strain on what should be a happy time. Just by giving the power and knowledge to families on their healthcare decision, this bill would make a big difference in every new parents’ life.”

Davids is a fierce advocate for making health care affordable and accessible to all Kansans. Davids’ legislation to help prevent surprise medical billing became law last Congress, and she recently joined her colleagues to urge House leadership to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, lowering costs for patients significantly. Davids also held a roundtable earlier this year with Governor Kelly focused on expanding Medicaid to 165,000 Kansans.

Sharice Davids is the newly elected representative for Kansas’s Third Congressional District. She makes history as Kansas’s first LGBTQ member of Congress and the first gay Native American woman elected to Congress.

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